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I’m now left with great heaps of laurel trimmings to deal with. Lots of the branches will be recycled. Larger branches will be used as bean and sweet pea supports and the small off-cuts as pea sticks. The one thing I’ve learnt about laurel from previous pruning sessions is that it soon grows back even after a very severe hacking. Next on my list for the chop is our conifer which is also very tall and casts too much shade over parts of the plot.

This will be a much trickier operation than cutting back the laurel. I don’t really want to cut back into dead would as I suspect it wouldn’t regrow but the height needs to be brought down and a certain amount of trimming at a lower level will be required. It’s safe for a few days though whilst my sawing arm recovers from its efforts devastating the laurel bush.

On the plot it was a tidying up afternoon. The grass paths were cut and the edges trimmed. This might be the last time they get a summer cut and tidy up as they move into autumn and winter mode where a quick strim has to do when the grass is too wet to cut easily with the mower.

Once the mowing was finished I thought it was about time one of our laurel bushes had a trim. It had got rather large and had started to cast too much shade on the neighbouring bed. The trim became a major cutting back session as I got to work with the pruning saw. The blackbirds weren’t too happy as one of their favourite spots for eyeing up produce on the plot disappeared.

Sunday 22 September 2013

A Little Bit Special

Sunday was a little bit special with long sunny spells and very warm reaching 22.8°C in the afternoon.

Monday 23 September 2013


After a lovely sunny day on Sunday, Monday came as a disappointment as it was dull all day apart from a little sunshine early morning. It remained mild again with the temperature reaching 18°C

We decided on a visit to RSPB Low Moor as I wanted to try my hand at digiscoping. It’s the technique of capturing the image you see through the eyepiece of a telescope with you digital camera. It’s obviously a tricky technique to master getting your subject in focus not only with the telescope but on the camera too. Then keeping everything very still while the picture is snapped.

Herons make particularly good subjects as they stay motionless in the water waiting for an unsuspecting fish to come into range. This was my best effort of the day. Thank heavens for digital photography as virtually all the photographs hit the cutting room floor.




Tuesday 24 September 2013

Autumn Jobs

Tuesday was a real mixture with a very dull morning and a lovely sunny afternoon.

It’s the time of year when I like to get as much tidying up and sorting out done on the plot before any bad weather arrives. I always feel the more I can get done now the better off I’ll be come next spring. This year I’ve found a big advantage where our beds are covered with weed control fabric. Normally the beds that have grown courgettes, peas and beans are just about overrun with weeds by the time we’ve finished harvesting. So all these beds normally needs clearing of weeds and dead crops and digging over for winter. Not this year as there are no weeds so I intend to cut back the dead plants and leave the fabric in place over winter to stop any weeds growing.

The main bed in the picture was dug over a few weeks ago when our early potatoes were lifted. It was covered with weed control fabric today and some partially rotted horse manure spread over the top to keep it in place over winter. The other bed in the picture grew this years experimental onion crop through weed control fabric which has been left in place so no digging required and no weed problem.

Next spring I’ll dig over each bed as the weed control fabric will move round following the crop rotation of the beds. Onions, brassicas and peas already have appropriate cuts in the fabric for next years crops. We’ve yet to decide how to grow our early potatoes through the fabric but we’re certainly going to give it a go.

If you think that having to dig all our beds next spring is a lot of work it’s normal practice on our plot. Our heavy clay soil dug in autumn always needs digging again in spring after it’s been battered by rain, frost and snow through the winter months.

All digging is now on hold as the ground has become too dry and hard. A decent spell if rain is required to give the ground a good soaking and get it back into a condition suitable for cultivation.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Will They - Wont They

Wednesday was overcast all day but it remained mild.

We’ll soon have to decide when to remove our plot greenhouse tomatoes into boxes to see if they will ripen at home. Sue removed more leaves on our last visit on Tuesday and it showed just how many tomatoes we’ve still to ripen. The alternative - lots of green tomato chutney.

Over the last couple of weeks lots of our tomatoes have ripened so perhaps we’ll leave them for another week or so but if colder weather is forecast they might be better off ripening at home.

Below is an updated chart of our tomato harvest from our plot and home greenhouses. We’ve picked around 7kg in the last couple of weeks.


Plot Greenhouse

11 Sept


Plot Greenhouse

25 Sept


Home Greenhouse

11 Sept


Home Greenhouse

25 Sept







Amish Gold





Brandy Boy Hybrids





Pink Wonder















I watched the tomato tasting test on this week’s Beechgrove Garden confirming that tomatoes shouldn’t be kept in the fridge if you want them to keep their flavour. An extract from Beechgrove Garden’s latest fact sheet describing part of the taste test is below:

Finally they conducted a tomato taste test. They had 3 samples each of the tomato ‘Shirley’ to try to see if our panel had a preference: 1 sample was freshly picked that morning, 1 sample had been harvested a week and stored in the fridge and the third sample had been harvested a week ago and stored at room temperature.

The overall advice was that tomatoes should be left on the vine for as long as possible before harvested and that they should not be stored in the fridge as it affects the taste.

The fact sheet sheet can be found here describing the taste test fully and it contains other interesting items shown on the programme.

Thursday - Saturday 26-28 September 2013

Apples, Pears and Trains.

The weather has been much the same over the last few days with variable amounts of cloud each day but remaining pleasantly mild for late September.

My plan was to harvest our apples and pears at home before they fell off the trees of their own accord smashing through the greenhouse roof as they did so. I decided to make a start on Thursday only to find out I was a day too late.

This lovely apple had beaten me to it and smashed through the roof and creating another repair job to be made to the greenhouse.

It wasn’t all bad news though as the apples and pears produced a much bigger harvest than I’d expected. Not bad for trees that were cut back and forgotten about many years ago but which just refuse to stop growing.

We should be alright for crumbles and pies well into winter.

On Friday we made another excursion to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as it was the first day of their Autumn Steam Gala.

On the moors where the sheep are free to roam we had to make a couple of stops as they wandered across the road or in the case of one particular cool customer took a walk down the middle of the road with us very slowly tailing behind. In Goathland, where the TV series Heartbeat was filmed and which is also one of the stations on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, the trees aren’t really showing too many signs of the arrival of autumn just yet.

Looking out of the train window on the journey from Pickering, through Levisham and on to Goathland the bracken on the moors is certainly looking fairly golden and autumnal.

Of course there were some pretty impressive steam locomotives hauling the trains through this spectacular scenery including 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, sister locomotive the world’s fastest ever steam locomotive Mallard, and named after their designer.

This is Sir Nigel Gresley arriving at Goathland Station with a morning train from Grosmont.

Sunday & Monday 29/30 September 2013

Dry for Gardeners

Weather wise there’s not been much change over the last few days as in general morning cloud has broken up to give a sunny afternoon.

It’s been a dry month though with only 32.4mm of rainfall against an expected 58.3mm just over half what we’d get in an average September. Following on from a slightly drier than normal August it’s meant watering newly planted onion sets together with wallflowers, sweet Williams, dog daisies and sweet rocket.

We’re pleased with our wallflowers which are looking good even though the ground is dry. We are hoping for a good display next spring.

Temperature wise the month will turn out to be a bit below average at 13.6°C against a long term average of 14.4°C. We certainly haven’t had any really cold nights and we’re still managing to harvest crops on the plot.

Last year by the middle of August we’d picked the last of our sweet peas but this year they’re still producing some nice cut flowers. How much of that is down to the weather conditions and how much is due to the fact they’ve been grown through weed control fabric this year I wouldn’t like to say. Although it’s been dry they haven’t been treated to a drink for many weeks now.

Lets hope this October turns out better than last year’s which was on the cold side and finished up the coldest since 1992.